University of Technology Sydney

82220 Animation Studio: Foundations in Animation Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject advances students’ knowledge and skill in the development of both narrative and non-narrative forms of animation. Students build upon their experience during first session with a continuing emphasis on primary research through direct observation, photography, film and sound. Studio based projects focus more on the production of animation sequences as final outcomes, and there is a strong emphasis on experimentation and risk-taking throughout. It also expands on themes around building narratives for animation through the making and analysis of analogue and digital sequences.

Further emphasis is placed on developing sophisticated visualisation skills in a wide range of hand made and digital media. Issues such as composition, colour theory, camera framing and movement, visual space and hierarchy are also explored in greater depth.

Students begin to work closely with text in relation to character and story, both generating original written material and analysing existing texts. The research methods explored in this subject further equip students to observe and invent compelling characters and archetypes for moving image.

This subject also explores further the construction and function of team-working models, including appropriate roles, time management and action plans, negotiation, and communication. Projects include a range of team based and individual tasks to identify capabilities and extend creative possibilities within the group.

The aim is the development of a design and movement language that incorporates a clear understanding of animation both as traditional narrative form and as an open-ended experimental and abstracted language. Students learn how to conceptualise intention, atmosphere, mood and genre in order to develop a critical understanding of the language of visual communication and animation media.

In addition, this subject increases students’ knowledge of the history and theory of animation, with a particular emphasis on the study of genre. This includes animation production techniques, animation styles and formats, experimental animation, text and image sequences, as well as a study of centres of production such as European, North American and Asian animation.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Develop the ability to gather primary research and connect this research with your ideas
2. Manage time and task completion in an organised and realistic way
3. Demonstrate an ability to engage the audience with succinct and highly crafted sequences
4. Develop the ability to gather secondary research through library, internet, social media and discussion
5. Develop ideas and designs through a succession of iterations
6. Generate a wide variety of ideas and designs for both narrative and non narrative animation
7. Demonstrate an increased awareness of camera and composition
8. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of analogue and digital materials and textures
9. Negotiate and communicate effectively within teams

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, negotiate differences and take a leadership role when required (C.1)
  • Ability to communicate ideas clearly and effectively in verbal and visual presentations (C.2)
  • Ability to develop unique aesthetic and movement languages for animation (I.2)
  • Ability to recognise the creative possibilities for animation technologies and materials, to experiment, to take risks, and contribute alternative directions (I.3)
  • Ability to understand and apply fundamental animation principles (P.1)
  • Ability to demonstrate a high level of craft and production values across all methods of animation process (P.2)
  • Ability to work with production complexity, to breakdown, organise, manage, delegate, define conventions and archive projects (P.3)
  • Ability to undertake primary and secondary research, exploring a wide range of visual and textual materials, and connect research process to final outcomes (R.1)
  • Ability to iterate, reflect, edit and engage in self-critique and critical thinking (R.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject intends to establish a set of 'rules of engagement', or working methodologies that will become essential to the development of original animation content. Insights gained will help students to identify and build their own unique creative process. The projects are part of a broader aim to challenge existing preconceptions about what animation is and could be, and to develop an open-minded, exploratory mentality that will feed new visual languages and new forms of movement.

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture and Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs) are linked to these categories using codes (e.g. C-1, A-3, P-4, etc.).

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject uses the problem based learning strategy that involves students in researching and developing their own solutions to complex design challenges.

The subject uses design professionals as mentors and guest lecturers to ensure that all content and tasks are relevant to current professional practice in a global context.

Individual verbal feedback will be given weekly from the commencement of the subject.

The subject combines one 1hr lecture session and two 3hr studios per week.

The lecture sessions will provide knowledge relevant to the subject and that will enable students to work on their design projects. The knowledge provided is information on the design and narrative methods to be used in the development of an animated piece and its contents. Students will be participating in individual tutorials, group discussions and team based activities throughout the semester.

In the studios, students will work on their design projects with a mentor. At the beginning of each studio the mentor will discuss with the entire group the desired outcome of the class and the challenges they are facing with their projects. The mentor will then prompt students facing similar challenges to facilitate collaborative discussions.

Prior to each studio class the students will be required to collect relevant reference material as directed by the studio mentor.

The mentor will be reviewing the work weekly and will provide feedback verbally. It will be the students' responsibility to record any feedback provided in studio. During pin-up presentations students will be expected to actively participate in collaborative peer review feedback exercises.

Activities will include demonstrations, presentations, visual tasks and exercises, seminars, case studies and external visits.

The subject includes active learning experiences where ongoing feedback is provided weekly in all on-campus engagements such as interactive lecture sessions, studios and computer labs. It is therefore imperative that students attend all on-campus engagements.

Grades, marks and feedback on final design submissions will be provided through REVIEW.

Content (topics)

  • Camera and composition
  • Production technology using 2D and 3D software
  • Fundamentals of animation
  • Linear and non linear story and narrative
  • Primary and secondary research
  • Material variation and their uses
  • Concept and development of ideas


Assessment task 1: Abstract Short Film


To produce a 2D experimental animated short film for an outdoor public screening using primary and secondary research.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, C.2, I.2, I.3, P.1, R.1 and R.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Process work: Imaginative and thorough approach to the research process 10 1 R.1
Process work: Creativity and risk taking in the application of research to design solutions 10 4 I.3
Process work: Ability to iterate ideas by exploring multiple options before settling on a final outcome 10 5 R.3
Design solution: Design of an original and imaginative animated sequence 20 6 I.2
Design solution: Appropriate use of materials for final artwork 10 8 R.1
Process work: Ability to work in a team and negotiate differences 10 9 C.1
Design solution: Ability to clearly articulate concepts in studio and in presentations 10 9 C.2
Process work: Completion of given group and individual research and iteration tasks 10 9 C.1
Design Solutions: Application of animation principles in final film 10 3 P.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Illustration and Iterative Process


To create an authentic and graphically strong piece of concept art through an iterative process. This project should incorporate observation and description of real life characters and environments as well as experimentation with various image making techniques.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.2, I.2, I.3, P.1, P.2, R.1 and R.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Sustained curiosity in collecting primary research through field work. 20 1 R.1
Ability to apply research to creative thinking. 10 6 I.2
Application of play, experimentation and creative risk-taking to the design process. 10 8 I.3
Demonstration of sustained iteration in the development of an image 30 5 R.3
The ability to use design communication to identify creative problems and work towards solutions 10 9 C.2
Professional level of craft in the production of a compelling image. 10 1 P.2
Iterating toward an illustration that reads with graphic clarity 10 7 P.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Short Film


The create a short looping animation. The concept for this film should be derived from research and observations and iterations collected in your visual journal.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 6

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

I.2, P.2, P.3, R.1 and R.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Ability to collect primary and secondary research through a sustained visual journaling practice 40 4 R.1
Ability to generate innovative animation ideas using the visual journal 10 1 R.3
Ability to project manage a complicated creative project under time constraints. 10 2 P.3
Creative play, experimentation and risk taking in service of an entertaining outcome. 10 6 I.2
Level of professional craft in the production of a high-quality animated film. 30 3 P.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Recommended texts

Albers, J. c2009, Interaction of Colour, Yale University Press, New Haven,(Conn).

Ambrose, G. 2005, Colour, AVA Publishing, Worthing.

Amidi, A. 2006, Cartoon Modern: Style and design in fifties animation, Chronicle Books, San Fransisco.

Carrera, P. 2011, Adobe Flash Animation: creative storytelling for the Web and TV, Jones and Bartlett Learning, Sudbury, MA.

Drate, S. 2007, Pure Animation: steps to creation with 57 cutting edge animators, Merrell, London.

Edison, D. 2008, Colour Painting: the full palette from the start, Laurence King, London.

Faber, L. 2003, Animation Unlimited: innovative short films since 1940, Laurence King, London.

Fraser, T. 2004, The Complete Guide to Colour, Ilex, Lewes.

Furniss, M. 2008, The Animation Bible: a guide to everything from flipbooks to flash, Laurence King, London.

Genders, C. 2009, Pattern, Colour and Form: new approaches to creativity, A & C Black, London ( available as web resource).

Krasner, J.S. 2004, Motion Graphic Design, Fine Art Animation: principles and Practice, Elsevier/Focal Press, Boston.

Ken A. 2011, The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation, Course Technology, Boston, USA.

Kitson, C. 2008, British Animation: the Channel 4 factor, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind.

Patmore, C. 2003, The complete Animation Course: the principles, practices and techniques of succesful animation, Thames & Hudson, London.

Robinson, C. 2008 Canadian Animation: looking for a place to happen, John Libbey, Bloomington, N.Y.

Selby, A. 2009, Animation in Process, Laurence King, London.

Shaw, S. 2003, Stop Motion: craft skills for model animation, Elsevier/Focal Press, Boston.

Van Leeuwen, T. 2011, The Language of Colour: an introduction, Routledge, London.

Whitaker, H. c2009, Timing for Animation, Elsevier/Focal Press, London.

Wells, P. 2008, Drawing for Animation, AVA Academia, Worthing, UK.

Wells, P. 2006, Fundamentals of Animation, AVA Publishing, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Wells, P. etc 2008, Re-Imagining Animation: the changing face of the moving image, AVA Academia, Worthing.

White, T. c2006, From Pencils to Pixels: classical techniques for digital animators, Focal Press, Oxford.

Williams, R. c2001, The Animator's Survival Kit, Faber, London.